Vergence in reverspective: Percept-driven versus data-driven eye movement control

Michael Wagner, Walter H. Ehrenstein, Thomas V. Papathomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


'Reverspectives' (by artist Patrick Hughes) consist of truncated pyramids with their small faces closer to the viewer, allowing realistic scenes to be painted on them. Because their pictorial perspective reverses the physical depth arrangement, reverspectives provide a bistable paradigm of two radically different, competing depth percepts, even when viewed binocularly: points that are physically further are perceived to be closer and vice versa. The key question addressed here is whether vergence is governed by the physical and/or the perceived depth of fixated targets. Vergence eye movements were recorded using the EyeLink II system under conditions optimized to obtain both the veridical and illusory depth percepts of a reverspective. Six gaze locations were signaled by LEDs placed at strategically selected depths on the stimulus surface. We obtained strong evidence that stable vergence fixations were governed by the percept: for the same LED position, eyes converged under veridical depth percepts and diverged under illusory percepts, thus rendering pictorial cues to be as effective as physical cues in vergence control. These results, obtained with stable fixations, do not disagree with earlier studies that found rapid fixational eye movements to be governed by physical depth cues. Together, these results allow us to speculate on the existence of at least two eye movement systems: an automatic, data-driven system for rapid successions of fixations; and a deliberate schema-driven vergence system that accounts for stable fixations based on the perceptual state of the observer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-146
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 9 Jan 2009


  • Depth perception
  • Human vision
  • Real versus illusory depth
  • Vergence control


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